POSTCARD FROM SCHLADMING
29th January 2020 | James Cove, Schladming
Last modified on March 25th, 2020
I have a confession to make.
I have never skied in Schladming or indeed this part of Austria.
I have absolutely no idea what it is like.
As always I never do research ahead of a trip to a new resort, as I like to bowl up and see the place with my own eyes and without any preconceptions.
It is much larger than I thought it would be.
I skied pretty hard for most of the day, and only managed three of the four mountains
The four mountains are Hauser Kaibling, Planai, Hochwurzen and Reireralm with 123km of slopes.
If anything it feels bigger.
It is also part of the huge Ski Amade area, the largest in Austria, with 760kms of slopes and 270 lifts.
The Planai mountain area above Schladming was my starting point.
This winter it opened a new €26m gondola.
The first main lift was built here in 1972 and then replaced in 1985.
Now it has a new pride and joy:
And in case you are wondering, the finish area of the famous Night Slalom Race is to the right.
The main reason I had come to Schladming.
See here for my separate report on race night.
The resort has a history of racing and in 2013 hosted the World Championships
So, what of the skiing?
I was first struck by the size and the fact you ski round the mountains following their contours.
It has a slightly old-school feel.
There is little for experts who want a challenge: a single steep mogul field, a handful of blacks and that’s about it.
I was told the ski touring is good and the off piste terrain in the trees looked very good for a powder day.
It is primarily a resort for piste cruising and very good it is on its tree-lined north-facing slopes that are littered with fabulous mountain restaurants,
Much of the skiing is on wide runs cut through the trees and it makes a nice change from the high-altitude and occasionally bleak skiing in France and Switzerland.
This is not a resort for lapping chair lifts endlessly, rather you travel round the mountain, going from area to area.
It is how I like it.
It has that special Austrian way of seamlessly mixing old with new.
The Krummholz hut was built in 1908.
There were no lifts back then so people would walk up and rest here before skiing down.
This is where Austrian ski pioneers came.
And now the area has some ultra-modern slope side architecture.
The views in this part of the Austrian Alps, Styria, are stunning.
And perhaps best from the high point of the resort in Hauser Kaibling at 2,015m.
And “What’s this?” I hear you ask – a Sky Toilet?
I went in to find out.
A loo with a (one way) view.
And then a first for me.
As described by my ski guide for the day, Oliver Weinzerl from the Tritscher ski school in Schladming.
Only in Austria.
And while we are on the subject of apres ski music, it should be pointed out that the place doesn’t just rock on the World Cup race night.
Schladming is lively, and I mean lively.
The Hohenhaus at the base of Planai by the new is apparently the largest apres-ski establishment in the Alps.
It is packed from mid-afternoon most days.
Eat your heart out St Anton and Ischgl.
And regular readers will no there is an easy, stress-free way to reach Schladming; via Klagenfurt airport.
I wrote about it last weekend:
I am not a betting man, but I think the odds on a return visit to Schladming after just a couple of days on the slopes are high.
I leave feeling I have barely scratched the surface.
I wonder what date the 2021 Schladming Slalom Night Race is on next January?
And the next stop on my tour of this part of the Alps is Nassfeld in neighbouring Carinthia.
Another ski area I have never set foot in…
- Special offer: Free direct transfers ALL season worth over €200 return if you book selected hotels in Nassfeld or Schladming. See Klagenfurt Airport for more information.
- Easyjet flies from Gatwick to Klagenfurt from £28 return.
- Sporthotel Royer: prices from €102 per person/per day with half board, two sharing. https://www.royer.at/en/hotel.html